FARMINGTON — Winning isn't anything new to Kevin Werth and Piedra Vista softball team, and as the victories pile up, the Lady Panthers head coach is approaching a milestone.

With a sweep of a doubleheader against Volcano Vista on Saturday, Werth sits just two wins away from 300 in his 15-year career.

Werth got his start in 1997 as an assistant for Aztec baseball for one season. He then moved on to Shiprock, where he was the head coach for the baseball team for a year, before coaching softball from 1999-2004.

He compiled a 86-60 record in six seasons with the Lady Chiefs, which included two district titles and one state title appearance.

Following the 2004 season, Werth took the head coaching job at Piedra Vista.

Under his command, the Lady Panthers have taken off, winning the last seven state titles. They have been consistently ranked in the top 25 nationally.

Werth credits his family and assistant coaches for allowing the program to reach such a high level of success.

"You have to have a good support system. First of all, I have the greatest wife who understands coaching and all the time it takes to do that," Werth said. "Secondly, I have awesome assistants. Coach (Frank) Whalen and coach (Tommy) Ward have been with me from day one. We have a nucleus of eight good coaches on our staff, and they do a great job for us. They work hard, and I think that's the key."

Werth also sees living in San Juan County as a major factor in his coaching success.


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"I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in New Mexico when it comes to softball," he said. "The northwest corner and southeast corner of the state are probably the two best softball areas. It's been a blessing that my wife is from here, and we moved up here after college. Everything has fallen into place, and I couldn't be more pleased with where I'm at."

Assistant coach Whalen said that Werth's work ethic created the Lady Panthers' softball dynasty.

"He had a definite plan and direction he wanted to take the program, and it's proven to be successful because of the tireless hours that he puts in, and the things he demands from the girls and himself and the coaches," Whalen said.

A seemingly endless stream of talented softball players have gone through the PV ranks during Werth's tenure. More than 20 players have received offers to play at the college level.

Lady Panthers senior Susie Chandler, who has committed to New Mexico State, is one of the many players who will continue their softball careers beyond high school, and she believes it wouldn't have been possible without Werth's help.

"He means the world to me. He's been such a father figure," Chandler said. "He's such a great coach. He pushes us every day and makes us stronger. I feel like he's made me the person I am today in life and in softball. He's always with us, doing what he loves."

Werth is also a finalist for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association award for National Softball Coach of the Year. It is the second time in his career that Werth has been a finalist for the award.

"It's a great experience. I was in great company with coaches from all over the United States — guys that have 2,000 wins," he said. "There was a coach from Oklahoma who'd been coaching for like 60 years. That was amazing. It's a humbling experience. I'm looking forward to it."

Werth is one of eight finalist who will travel to Des Moines, Iowa, in June for a national convention, where the award will be presented.

"It would be a great honor," Werth said of potentially winning the award. "The fact that I'm a finalist is pretty humbling in itself. We'll have a good time. My wife and kid are going, so we'll make it our family vacation since we don't get a lot of those during the summer."

Joshua Perry can be reached at jperry@daily-times.com; 505-564-4577. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.